Advanced Essay #3: Forming an Identity in a Sex-Driven Society

​The goal of my paper was to explore how growing up in a hypersexual society affects the identity of young men and women. I also wanted to tie this idea in with instances of street harassment and the sexualization of women all over the media. I feel as though I have accomplished both of these goals and have written a piece that I am proud of. To improve, I would include more analysis of my outside sources to make my points clearer.

When I see half naked women on billboards, magazine covers, and commercials, I can’t gawk out of lust like most men. I can only feel every imperfection stinging on my body and think of how ugly and fat I am compared to this woman. I know that she is completely constructed by men using photo editing software, but I still want her beauty. Most other men, even the teenage boys I see everyday, don’t seem to know this or they just live in the hope and fantasy that maybe that woman really exists. Either way most men and young boys expect that girls like me, who are seventeen years old or even younger, can be that synthetic woman that is open for their taking.

One hot summer day, I put on a pair of jean shorts and a tank top with some sneakers to go to a friends house. I was fourteen years old and did not yet know that this simple and comfortable outfit could make me a target. I walked up the busiest street in my neighborhood with my school bag on my back eager for the day ahead of me. A couple blocks away from the house, a man who was probably in his mid to late twenties, slowly rolled next to me keeping pace with me. He yelled, “Hey girl! You need a ride?” I tried my hardest to ignore him and walk as fast as I could, but he chased me knowing I didn’t want to speak to him. He spoke again, “Come on, girl. You’re fine! Can I at least get your number? How old are you, baby?” I could finally say the words that had been swelling in my throat. “I’m fourteen,” I shouted back. He stared at me for a split second with awe glazing his eyes and then drove away as fast as he could, leaving tire marks on the road ahead. The tears began to well in my eyes and my cheeks began to burn. I had never known how much focus there always was from others on my body until this very moment. I wanted to hide away from the eyes of others as soon as I could, so I ran home to the safe haven of my bedroom. This memory sticks with me, because it is the first time I ever experienced street harassment. This experience made me realize how girls in our society are perceived as objects made for any man’s sexual demands. I learned that I was and continue to be one of the very many young girls that experience this harassment regularly and it disgusts me. Through research I found that around 50% of harassed women and men experienced street harassment by age 17 and more than half (57%) of all women had experienced verbal harassment, and 41% of all women had experienced physically aggressive forms, including sexual touching (23%), following (20%), flashing (14%), and being forced to do something sexual (9%).  I also realized that we live in hypersexual society and these depictions of half naked women began to stand out to me even more. Knowing that I had eyes on me at all times made me very self conscious, and I felt like intolerable of the standard for women that surrounded me in advertisements. By growing up in this hypersexual society, I have become uncomfortable in my own skin and critical of every imperfection on my body and sadly I am not the only one.

Our society is exposed to more sexual images than ever before. Researchers from the University of Buffalo stated that, “In the 1960s, it was found that 11 percent of men and 44 percent of women on the covers of Rolling Stone were sexualized. In the 2000s, 17 percent of men were sexualized (an increase of 55 percent from the 1960s), and 83 percent of women were sexualized (an increase of 89 percent). Among those images that were sexualized, 2 percent of men and 61 percent of women were hypersexualized. ‘In the 2000s,’ Hatton says, ‘there were 10 times more hypersexualized images of women than men, and 11 times more non-sexualized images of men than of women.’ We encounter more sexual images in our daily lives than ever before and that in turn makes our focus on sex higher than ever before as well. A 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that between 1998 and 2005, the number of sex scenes on TV nearly doubled. During prime time, 77 percent of shows included sexual content, averaging nearly six sex-related scenes per hour. Among the top 20 shows for teenagers, 70 percent included sexual content and 45 percent included sexual behavior. This content easily exposes children and teenagers, as well as adults, to sexual content and indicates how normal sex has become in our society.

Growing up in a hypersexual society that exploits women causes many negative impacts the identity of young girls and boys. With this impossible standard of a perfect body hanging over their heads, young girls are becoming more self conscious and have very low confidence levels which can lead to even more serious conditions such as depression, anorexia, bulimia, self harm, and other disorders that arise from their bodily image. Boys in this type of society can also grow to have unrealistic body standards and sexual expectations for women. Both of these responses from a hypersexual environment create an eternal cycle that maintain each other. For this cycle to be able to diminish, our society’s identity must change to become less focused on sex and focus more on the self, but with the condition of our current culture this transformation is unattainable.

WHYY Radio Piece: My story, bullying

Hi my name is Amanda Thieu and I am currently a senior at Science Leadership Academy. I am honored to have the opportunity to produce a radio piece on a topic that I'm passionate about. Bullying has not only has gratefully impacted my life, but it has also changed me to become the person that I am today bully-free. I hope my story helps other people realize the damage that bullying causes. We need to stop this. It's traumatizing that it could happen to a younger generation. 

Sexualization of Women in the Media

My piece highlights the sexualization of women in the media and how women are portrayed across all platforms. Important questions regarding advertising and company campaigns are addressed, and touches on what the sexualization stems from. Additionally, Amal Giknis, a teacher of a course on feminism at Science Leadership Academy, shares her opinions about female representation and inequality, and why females are represented in such ways throughout the media.
Sexualization of Women in the Media Radio Piece - Ava Olsen - 1:31:16, 1.10 PM

Identity Without Words

My initial goals for this podcast consisted of me interviewing three females of different ages and races on my specific topic of identity. That didn't exactly happen. I ended up with one female as well as getting the perspective from my 19 year old brother. With me switching up my interviewees, I also had to switch up my approach. My new goal was to ask the both of them similar questions and compare/contrast their answers.

Working on this project was interesting. It was very tedious and time consuming. Interviewing was the easy part. The more difficult part was editing and switching up my entire podcast. Since I interviewed two people, that was two people to edit, trim, and create interesting content. I had to move so much around while editing since the two were interview at different times.  

English Podcast  - 2_2_16, 8.50 AM

Macbeth Movie Review

A new movie for Macbeth came out! This would be an amazing thing to watch after watching two different productions of it in class, and reading the play. I was very excited to watch this because in the play, Shakespeare did not put in a lot of stage directions, so the director would have to use their creativity.
Something that I liked a lot was the cast because they are just a great group of actors and actresses. Another thing that I thought was good, was that the director decided to show in the beginning, Macbeth helping Duncan in a war. This makes the impact of him killing Duncan later more shocking to us. 
There were many things in this movie that were surprising that I did not expect the director to do. The first thing is that in the beginning of the movie, there was a funeral scene of Macbeth's and Lady Macbeth's child. This surprised me because I didn't think they even had a child. Although, I do think it's interesting that the director choose this. I believe that this scene was put in to make Lady Macbeth look like a sympathetic woman. Later on when she says cruel things, we may not take it as harshly because of what she's experienced. Another thing that I did not expect was the three witches to look like normal people. In the play, they were described to look like disgusting creatures but in this movie they looked just like normal woman. This disappointed me because I really wanted to see strange looking witches. 
More things that I did not expect the director to do was to show the ghost of a boy soldier who fought in the war, giving Macbeth a dagger leading the Duncan. This was unexpected to me because in the movie that we watched in class, the dagger and blood was only thing hallucination that leaded itself to Duncan. Also, in this movie, Malcolm saw Macbeth murder Duncan and ran away. This was shocking because in the play, when Macbeth just killed Duncan, no one really witnessed. 
So, what I can say after watching this movie is that I loved it and I recommend that you should go watch it! There are lots of things that I enjoyed and maybe you would too. Also, if you read Macbeth, you will see that in this movie, the director chooses to do a bunch of things that were not included in the play. This could be awesome or could be better in your opinion.